Buddhist Anarchism

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:37 am

Zhen Li wrote: All markets, for all time, have worked according to value and mediation with commodities of exchange (i.e. money, the earliest forms of which were things like cattle).
That and credit.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tellyontellyon
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:54 pm

M.

To Marxists the state IS violence. It is a tool for one class to control another. There is an ever present threat of violence that becomes overt if you step outside the limits that are acceptable to the ruling class. Sometimes the cage is bigger, sometimes smaller, but there is always an armed guard.

Lenin was writing in the middle of a revolution in one of the most violent times in history and in one of the most backward and undemocratic societies. But hi's view still holds today. The only way to get rid of this state violence is to use force in return. Lenin was not bloodthirsty, he was just being realistic for the situation he found himself in. The cage then was a very small one.

We, for the most part find ourselves in a much larger cage these days, with more freedoms. But the threat and actuality of violence is still there. And we still need force to overcome it.

But what sort of force? That is the point!

Look at this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4

Both the students and the police are using force/coercion... but only the police are really being violent.

But if lethal force is being used against a movement... would they have the right to self defence? That is another question?

Before Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama's and the High Lama's would resort to the use of violent force to defend their society. They armed and sent off to war young men just like every other state, and even got into arguments about arms spending.:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Army

Even on a mundane level, if you caused trouble or broke the rules in a monastery you could expect to be treated quite roughly by some muscular dob-dobs, who were not at all gentle or sanctimonious. The Tibetans are a very common sense, down to earth people.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dob-dob

I never said the Marxists were pacifists... (though it appears neither were the Tibetan lamas!)

If that is too offensive for you, then please, shake the dust from your sandles and turn your back on the world....
But the fact is the world is a violent place, we can't demand perfection of those we associate with if we are going to get involved with trying to change the world.... but as Buddhists we may use our input to at least mitigate the worst of it and encourage less violent forms of coercion.

As for the rest of your questions...How the state would wither away?; would there be ways of tackling crime etc. etc...
No, I can't answer them very well myself, I don't have the skill, brains or time to do justice to a complex and difficult subject. I'm am not a scholar of Marxism or Buddhism as I have already said.
So you will just have to read for yourself what to be honest is a rather complex subject.
“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:58 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:M.

To Marxists the state IS violence. It is a tool for one class to control another. There is an ever present threat of violence that becomes overt if you step outside the limits that are acceptable to the ruling class. Sometimes the cage is bigger, sometimes smaller, but there is always an armed guard.
States form out of protection societies, in general. We can see this in the case of the Buddha, who in a past life as the Bodhisattva, was appointed the first human king, or so the legend runs, and was appointed a sixth share of the harvest for his troubles.

But as long as human beings are subject to desire, hatred and ignorance, then for that long there will be classes of people, discrimination and so on. There is a reason Buddhists refer to themselves as "insiders". This means that we seek the solution to social ills and problems through personal transformation. There is no way you can remove the three afflictions merely through altering a given set of material relations. The proof of this is the psychological misery of the wealthy. Wealth does not make anyone happy. Of course this does not mean you cannot use material things to entice people into entering the teachings. The four means of converting beings to the Dharma are generosity (which itself as four aspects: giving material gifts, conferring fearlessness, loving kindness and teaching Dharma), pleasant speech, conduct and setting an example.

However, Marxist psychological theory, in contrast with Buddhist teachings, holds that all psychological states are fundamentally a result of social conditions fostered by material relationships, i.e. it is entirely materialist in its perspective. We can see that this perspective is deeply flawed because in fact as long as sentient beings like ourselves are driven by the three afflictions, there can be no happiness anywhere. Even if your Marxist utopia were possibility, it would swiftly degenerate because humans are driven by afflictions.

The Buddhist point of view is that states and classes arise inevitably because sentient beings are afflicted and driven by the three humors. In Buddhist legend, anarchy prevailed in the golden age when afflictions were very latent in humans. The golden age degenerated after humans began hoarding grains and their afflictions became activated, and thus protection societies emerged, kings were elected, classes were formed and it degenerated until the present epoch.

So in fact it really seems that a doctrine of Anarchy cannot squared with Buddhist teachings, in otherwords, from a Buddhist perspective a stateless society is completely impossible apart from the upper golden age.

It also appears that the uptopia Marx imagines is also impossible as

But if lethal force is being used against a movement... would they have the right to self defence? That is another question?
The Buddha explained very clearly in the Mahaparinibbana sutta that if a country is abiding by its laws, maintaining its own boundaries, and so on, then one it would be hard to attack, and second, if attacked would be difficult to defeat.

He of course understood that countries needed defense forces. But he also clearly demonstrated that no matter what side of a conflict one were on, engaging in lethal violence of any kind would condemn one to hell. Vasubandhu clearly explains that if one belongs to a group of one hundred persons, and that group kills someone, all in that group earn the negative karma of the entire group, i.e, all the Buddhists who recently killed all those Rohingyas all will experience the ripening of murdering those people times the number of people who approve of that action. Karma is unrelenting.
Before Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama's and the High Lama's would resort to the use of violent force to defend their society. They armed and sent off to war young men just like every other state, and even got into arguments about arms spending.:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Army
As I pointed out, the principle of karma is unrelenting. For as many Tibetans who violently resisted the Chinese occupation, many thousands more resisted it non-violently in accordance with Buddhist principles. And many were simply cut down in battle by machines guns since the Tibetans had not comparable arms. I cannot say that I know for a fact that they had lower rebirths, and there certainly are one or two scarce passages in Mahāyāna literature that appear to justify violent force to protect the Dharma, but in general, the tenor of Buddhist texts is that lethal violence is unacceptable.

The Dalai Lama freely admits that Tibet fell because the policies of the Tibetan government had fallen into corruption and abuse, therefore, Tibet could be attacked and defeated successfully because of the lack of merit of his own government.

Even on a mundane level, if you caused trouble or broke the rules in a monastery you could expect to be treated quite roughly by some muscular dob-dobs, who were not at all gentle or sanctimonious.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dob-dob
Dobdobs habitually indulged in what we would term child sexual abuse, i.e. rape.
I never said the Marxists were pacifists... (though it appears neither were the Tibetan lamas!)
Some Lamas aren't, but in general Buddhism is pacifist in orientation.
If that is too offensive for you, then please, shake the dust from your sandles and turn your back on the world....
But the fact is the world is a violent place, we can't demand perfection of those we associate with if we are going to get involved with trying to change the world.... but as Buddhists we may use our input to at least mitigate the worst of it and encourage less violent forms of coercion.
The message of the Buddha is that you cannot change the world in any substantial way through external force. You can only change the world by changing yourself.
No, I can't answer them very well myself, I don't have the skill, brains or time to do justice to a complex and difficult subject.
Why would you possibly buy into a doctrine you do not completely understand?

M
Last edited by Malcolm on Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tellyontellyon
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:17 pm

I don't completely understand Buddhism either, do you?
“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:26 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:I don't completely understand Buddhism either, do you?
Yes, I pretty well think I do. Others of course may disagree. Of course, there are many details I can learn, some I have forgot, have gone through periods of doubt and intense questioning, but yes, I really do understand the Buddha's teachings. But, then I have done little else for the past 25 years but study and practice it. Am I a realized person, of course not. Understanding and realization are two entirely different things.

You should reflect very carefully on what I wrote above.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tellyontellyon
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:42 pm

Yes, I pretty well think I do. Others of course may disagree. Of course, there are many details I can learn, some I have forgot, have gone through periods of doubt and intense questioning, but yes, I really do understand the Buddha's teachings. But, then I have done little else for the past 25 years but study and practice it. Am I a realized person, of course not. Understanding and realization are two entirely different things.

You should reflect very carefully on what I wrote above.
I will Lopon. :namaste:
“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:10 pm

Malcolm wrote:
The Buddhist point of view is that states and classes arise inevitably because sentient beings are afflicted and driven by the three humors. In Buddhist legend, anarchy prevailed in the golden age when afflictions were very latent in humans. The golden age degenerated after humans began hoarding grains and their afflictions became activated, and thus protection societies emerged, kings were elected, classes were formed and it degenerated until the present epoch.
Should have written "poisons".
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Grigoris
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:31 pm

I'm confused here. Are people conflating Anarchism with Marxism?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:34 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:I'm confused here. Are people conflating Anarchism with Marxism?
No, not at all.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Zhen Li » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:04 pm

In the Nikaya-Agamas the duty of a king is referred to, as it is in Kautilya, as danda - the stick. The only part of society which has the right use force is the king, in order to maintain order. There are many things the Buddha suggests monarchs to do which will help maintain order more thoroughly, but in the end, beings will always suffer due to greed, anger and delusion, and thus danda as a last recourse is sometimes necessary. This doesn't mean that the king won't suffer bad karma from it, he will, but the alternative is a society in which people steal rice from one another again.

You can't expect the king the remove the greed anger and delusion, only to keep it in check. To expect the king to do that, as Socialists in a effect do (figuratively speaking with "king" here), is paramount to ālasya, or laziness, and pramāda, heedlessness. Only through your own effort can you check the three poisons!

Sammappadhānā māra-dheyy·ābhibhūtā.
Te asitā jāti-maraṇa-bhayassa pāragū;
Te tusitā jetvā māraṃ sa-vāhiniṃ te anejā,
Sabbaṃ Namuci-balaṃ upātivattā te sukhitā ti.

The power of Māra is defeated by the right efforts.
He is unattached, having gone beyond the fear of birth and death.
He is contented, having subdued death together with its army, desireless.
Having overstepped all the powers of Namuci, he is happy.

A ii 15

If you refuse to offer an alternative, then you have no argument.

Marxists thrive on side stepping the central point of their argument: transition from law of value to law of socially direct labour.

Every variation in Marxism is based upon the inability to satisfy that argument.

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:I'm confused here. Are people conflating Anarchism with Marxism?
No, not at all.
Weird, coz just a couple of posts earlier tellyontellyoff was saying that Marxists are somehow in opposition to states.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:56 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:I'm confused here. Are people conflating Anarchism with Marxism?
No, not at all.
Weird, coz just a couple of posts earlier tellyontellyoff was saying that Marxists are somehow in opposition to states.
well, in terms of their utopia, yes.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by rob h » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:18 pm

Had no idea that this thread was still going, wow. Apologies if anyone asked me anything too, I just started it then left the forums shortly after for months. (although I doubt anyone will have, just saying incase.) Will maybe try to have a read through later.
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:44 pm

To Marxists, ultimately the state will wither away, but this doesn't happen overnight, there is a lengthy transition period when a workers state is necessary. This happens in stages and involves a period of time when a workers state is necessary before that eventually withers away.

Some of the problem with this discussion is the definition of terms. Marx/Lenin were using the term in a particular way that others may not agree with.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx's_theory_of_the_state

On class, I think the Buddha's idea of class or caste is different to the Marxian definition. It isn't really the same as how wealthy you are or based on culture/attitudes etc.

When Marxists talk about class they are referring to particular economic roles that only really exist under capitalism.
Working class, petit-bourgeois, and bourgeois apply to specific economic roles under capitalism.

A person could be a rich aristocrat, even a billionaire, but not necessarily a Bourgeois.
A person could be a petit-bourgeois (self-employed/small business person) and be poorer than a working class person (a person who sells their labour to an employer). A working class (proletarian) person could actually have quite a well paid job.
Bourgeoisie - describes a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital, the means of production.

People from a non-Marxist perspective don't use the word class in this exact way. These definitions only apply to capitalist society as the economy functions differently under capitalism than say under the sort of feudal system that the Buddha was talking about. Therefore the Buddha was talking about something different.

'Capitalism' also means different things to different people. To Marxists it has only been around a few hundred years and is not simply the same as buying and selling. So Capitalism as defined by Marx is a new phenomenon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism ... al_economy
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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:19 am

tellyontellyon wrote: On class, I think the Buddha's idea of class or caste is different to the Marxian definition. It isn't really the same as how wealthy you are or based on culture/attitudes etc.
"“Under the patriarchal system, under the caste system, under the feudal and corporative system, there was division of labor in the whole of society according to fixed rules. Were these rules established by a legislator? No. Originally born of the conditions of material production, they were born of the conditions of material production; they were raised to the status of laws only much later. In this way these different forms of the division of labour became so many bases of social organization.” ‘Poverty of Philosophy’, 118.

Marx's idea is precisely this. The Buddha would say no, people are born into social stations based on their karma. The two views are therefore incompatible.
When Marxists talk about class they are referring to particular economic roles that only really exist under capitalism.
In Capital he writes:

“Manufacture, in fact, produces the skill of the detail labourer, by reproducing, and systematically driving to an extreme within the workshop, the naturally developed differentiation of trades which it found ready to had in society at large. On the other hand, the conversion of fractional work into the life-calling of one man, corresponds to the tendency shown by earlier societies, to make trades hereditary; either to petrify them into castes, or whenever definite historical conditions beget in the individual a tendency to vary in a manner incompatible with the nature of castes, to ossify them into guilds. Castes and guilds arise from the action of the same natural law that regulates the differentiation of plants and animals into species and varieties, except that when a certain degree of development has been reached, the heredity of castes and exclusiveness of guilds are ordained as a law of society.” (p. 321. Moscow edition 1974).

I see no real distinction that can be made apart from that fact that, put in Marxist terms, these castes arose as a result of primitive accumulations which were then capitalized.
So Capitalism as defined by Marx is a new phenomenon.
Specifically, modern Capitalism is a post colonial evolution based on the discovery of gold and silver in the Americas and so on.

If you take the broader view, there have been many waves of capitalism since ancient history, like a trees in a forest, beings compete for resources, some are more effective at gathering resources, other's less. Eventually, the whole forest becomes moribund and is either replaced with new species of trees, or it dies altogether.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:31 am

I think some ideas around Karma might be worth thinking about. What do people think of these idea:
(sorry, more Wiki.... I did say I'm no scholar.
Loy argues that the idea of accumulating merit too easily becomes "spirtitual materialism," a view echoed by other Buddhist modernists,[105] and further that

"Karma has been used to rationalize racism, caste, economic oppression, birth handicaps and everything else. Taken literally, karma justifies the authority of political elites, who therefore must deserve their wealth and power, and the subordination of those who have neither. It provides the perfect theodicy: if there is an infallible cause-and-effect relationship between one's actions and one's fate, there is no need to work toward social justice, because it's already built into the moral fabric of the universe. In fact, if there is no undeserved suffering, there is really no evil that we need to struggle against. It will all balance out in the end."[104]

While some strands of later Buddhist thought did attribute all experience to past karma, the early texts explicitly did not, and in particular state that caste is not determined by karma.[106]
Does anybody know about these early texts that explicitly state that caste is not determined by Karma? Apparently the source for this statement on Wiki came from this reference:
Matthews, Bruce (1986), "Chapter Seven: Post-Classical Developments in the Concepts of Karma and Rebirth in Theravada Buddhism", in Neufeldt, Ronald W., Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Developments, State University of New York Press,

I will also throw in this article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

http://buddhism.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1 ... karma.html
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:37 am

tellyontellyon wrote:I think some ideas around Karma might be worth thinking about. What do people think of these idea:
(sorry, more Wiki.... I did say I'm no scholar.
Loy argues that the idea of accumulating merit too easily becomes "spirtitual materialism," a view echoed by other Buddhist modernists,[105] and further that

"Karma has been used to rationalize racism, caste, economic oppression, birth handicaps and everything else. Taken literally, karma justifies the authority of political elites, who therefore must deserve their wealth and power, and the subordination of those who have neither. It provides the perfect theodicy: if there is an infallible cause-and-effect relationship between one's actions and one's fate, there is no need to work toward social justice, because it's already built into the moral fabric of the universe. In fact, if there is no undeserved suffering, there is really no evil that we need to struggle against. It will all balance out in the end."[104]

While some strands of later Buddhist thought did attribute all experience to past karma, the early texts explicitly did not, and in particular state that caste is not determined by karma.[106]
Does anybody know about these early texts that explicitly state that caste is not determined by Karma? Apparently the source for this statement on Wiki came from this reference:
Matthews, Bruce (1986), "Chapter Seven: Post-Classical Developments in the Concepts of Karma and Rebirth in Theravada Buddhism", in Neufeldt, Ronald W., Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Developments, State University of New York Press,

I will also throw in this article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

http://buddhism.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1 ... karma.html
The earlier sutta citation I provided for you comes from the Majjhima Nikāya. Clearly, Buddha there states that one's social position, whether high or low is a result of karma.

From the article you shared:

From the standpoint of karma, though, where we come from is old karma, over which we have no control.

We only have control over where we are going, not what family we were born into and so on.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tellyontellyon
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:58 am

I'm not sure that just quoting that one line gives the gist of what is being said so here it is in full:
Karma is one of those words we don't translate. Its basic meaning is simple enough — action — but because of the weight the Buddha's teachings give to the role of action, the Sanskrit word karma packs in so many implications that the English word action can't carry all its luggage. This is why we've simply airlifted the original word into our vocabulary.

But when we try unpacking the connotations the word carries now that it has arrived in everyday usage, we find that most of its luggage has gotten mixed up in transit. In the eyes of most Americans, karma functions like fate — bad fate, at that: an inexplicable, unchangeable force coming out of our past, for which we are somehow vaguely responsible and powerless to fight. "I guess it's just my karma," I've heard people sigh when bad fortune strikes with such force that they see no alternative to resigned acceptance. The fatalism implicit in this statement is one reason why so many of us are repelled by the concept of karma, for it sounds like the kind of callous myth-making that can justify almost any kind of suffering or injustice in the status quo: "If he's poor, it's because of his karma." "If she's been raped, it's because of her karma." From this it seems a short step to saying that he or she deserves to suffer, and so doesn't deserve our help.

This misperception comes from the fact that the Buddhist concept of karma came to the West at the same time as non-Buddhist concepts, and so ended up with some of their luggage. Although many Asian concepts of karma are fatalistic, the early Buddhist concept was not fatalistic at all. In fact, if we look closely at early Buddhist ideas of karma, we'll find that they give even less importance to myths about the past than most modern Americans do.

For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear and complex. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a simple straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past. The nature of this freedom is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.

So, instead of promoting resigned powerlessness, the early Buddhist notion of karma focused on the liberating potential of what the mind is doing with every moment. Who you are — what you come from — is not anywhere near as important as the mind's motives for what it is doing right now. Even though the past may account for many of the inequalities we see in life, our measure as human beings is not the hand we've been dealt, for that hand can change at any moment. We take our own measure by how well we play the hand we've got. If you're suffering, you try not to continue the unskillful mental habits that would keep that particular karmic feedback going. If you see that other people are suffering, and you're in a position to help, you focus not on their karmic past but your karmic opportunity in the present: Someday you may find yourself in the same predicament that they're in now, so here's your opportunity to act in the way you'd like them to act toward you when that day comes.

This belief that one's dignity is measured, not by one's past, but by one's present actions, flew right in the face of the Indian traditions of caste-based hierarchies, and explains why early Buddhists had such a field day poking fun at the pretensions and mythology of the brahmans. As the Buddha pointed out, a brahman could be a superior person not because he came out of a brahman womb, but only if he acted with truly skillful intentions.

We read the early Buddhist attacks on the caste system, and aside from their anti-racist implications, they often strike us as quaint. What we fail to realize is that they strike right at the heart of our myths about our own past: our obsession with defining who we are in terms of where we come from — our race, ethnic heritage, gender, socio-economic background, sexual preference — our modern tribes. We put inordinate amounts of energy into creating and maintaining the mythology of our tribe so that we can take vicarious pride in our tribe's good name. Even when we become Buddhists, the tribe comes first. We demand a Buddhism that honors our myths.

From the standpoint of karma, though, where we come from is old karma, over which we have no control. What we "are" is a nebulous concept at best — and pernicious at worst, when we use it to find excuses for acting on unskillful motives. The worth of a tribe lies only in the skillful actions of its individual members. Even when those good people belong to our tribe, their good karma is theirs, not ours. And, of course, every tribe has its bad members, which means that the mythology of the tribe is a fragile thing. To hang onto anything fragile requires a large investment of passion, aversion, and delusion, leading inevitably to more unskillful actions on into the future.

So the Buddhist teachings on karma, far from being a quaint relic from the past, are a direct challenge to a basic thrust — and basic flaw — in our culture. Only when we abandon our obsession with finding vicarious pride in our tribal past, and can take actual pride in the motives that underlie our present actions, can we say that the word karma, in its Buddhist sense, has recovered its luggage. And when we open the luggage, we'll find that it's brought us a gift: the gift we give ourselves and one another when we drop our myths about who we are, and can instead be honest about what we're doing with each moment — at the same time making the effort to do it right.
And here is another link about Karma and discusses the five niyamas. The article is called, "All is not due to Karma.":
http://www.theravada.dk/?pageid=389

Anyway, the point is, is that whatever hand we are dealt, we have free will and can have an effect, and so social action is worthwhile. We can help people in the here and now, we can actually change our present situation and that of others..., and in turn our actions can come back to us as positive karma in the future. So we can be 'outsiders' as well as 'insiders'.
“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

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Malcolm
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:11 am

tellyontellyon wrote:I'm not sure that just quoting that one line gives the gist of what is being said so here it is in full
It explains the basic point that I was making, social class, what kind of family you are born into, is result your past karma.

We can help people in the here and now, we can actually change our present situation..., and in turn our actions can come back to us as positive karma in the future.
Yes, provided we act with wisdom and in accordance with the Dharma. If we abandon the Dharma by adhering to some non-Buddhist principles, we will come to nothing but grief.

For example, if someone accumulates a great deal of money or property, this is a result of their karma. We can encourage them to use it in a socially responsible way, but if we "liberate" it for the "people", believing that a factory for example "belongs" to its workers, then we will be in for some very heavy negative karma of poverty in our future life. On the other hand, if we believe a factory is engaged in unfair practices, and we picket, and protest, appealing to the government to step in, there is no problem with this. Buddhist Vinaya has long established that in terms of matters of law, the civil law of the country you are in handles civil matters and must be obeyed.

So, I am all for people trying to make the world a better place as long as they do so civilly, non-violently and without engaging in force to achieve their ends. I can understand when people react with extreme violence to heavy oppression, understand it, but this also is really just samsaric behavior. At a certain point in your life, you have to give up attachment to samsara and your own selfish liberation and instead cultivate bodhicitta and a view which is free from grasping.

If you read and follow what is taught in Mahāyāna you will have perfect prescription for how to benefit sentient beings in this life and the next with no need to resort the theories of doctrines of materialists.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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tellyontellyon
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Post by tellyontellyon » Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:25 am

For example, if someone accumulates a great deal of money or property, this is a result of their karma
Mmmm, could be... but what if the actual way they acquire their reward for past actions in this life, is say for example, to rob a bank? Someone may rob a bank, shoot the clerk, and spend the rest of their life happily rolling in dosh. (money)

So a person may be wealthy and happy, but their actions in this life may be dreadful. It would be hard to say that the bank robber deserves his wealth. A person must be judged by their actions in this life.
What if a businessman becomes wealthy by exploiting, his workers. Taking more than his fair share?

Would it be wrong for the robber to return their ill-gotten-gains? What about the businessman? What if the law of the land is corrupt?
“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

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